“Perestroika” refers to the economic restructuring toward the end of the Soviet Union, its thawing toward the West. Both parts happen in Selfie’s “Perestroika.” Eliza thaws toward Henry in preparation for her 1991 transition into ostensibly republican government, and Henry restructures her capital and finances. And it’s about as exciting as that sounds!
Given how fast that opening feud flies by, and how quickly and easily both Henry and Eliza get over it, “Perestroika” seems like a consequence of the 13-episode order. Selfie just had its most melancholy episode yet, and it picks up the thread with this mellow story about Eliza being too stressed out to pay her bills (or as the book club says, to handle her bidness) and winding up rich-homeless for a couple days. By the end of it Eliza and Henry are back together as a work couple, the better to prepare for the remaining two episodes, I hope. It’s a season of soap compressed into five episodes.
Most of the virtues of “Perestroika” reflect the glow of “Imperfect Harmony,” like when Freddy suddenly appears in a montage of Eliza living it up in the presidential suite of the Tate Holden hotel. So it wasn’t a one-time thing. Freddy’s back in the picture, which leads to the opposing reactions of joy because Freddy’s funny and disappointment because Eliza’s settling. But, yes, people and relationships are complicated. Maybe Eliza could find happiness with him. After all, at the end she asks him a serious question: Why did he let her go rich-homeless instead of offering to let her stay at his place? (And come to think of it, how is that not a deal-breaker? Get out of here, Freddy!) His answer is that she rejects him every time he gets serious, and he didn’t want to scare her off. He practically begs her to move in with him. I guess we’ll have to wait until a montage in the next episode to see if anything comes of that.
After fleeing the hotel, Lohan-style, Eliza tries to camp out in Henry’s office, but he’s not upset. Like I said, he’s already pretty mellow about her. “You’re not mad anymore,” she says. “Well, I know you didn’t write that review,” he says. It makes no sense, because Eliza shouldn’t know what review he’s talking about given their story separation to this point, but whatever. Plot compression! The point is Henry offers to let her stay at his house, while he gets a hotel room under the guise of spending a night with Julia. Apparently Henry’s not ready to tell Eliza they broke up yet. His whole problem that “Imperfect Harmony” brought out is that he’s afraid to act, so he just stands idly by while things happen. Avoiding his break-up and its Eliza-related causes is another example.
But at least the hotel stay leads to a funny phone call. Henry calls Eliza out of the blue to tell her to stop snooping, but then the maid bangs on his door, so he has to pretend it’s Julia and they’re doing some hotel-themed role-play. “Anyhoo, time to start having sex.” Right before he hangs up, he gives a quick, “Woo!” to the phone. Little does he know Julia’s at his place, dropping off some of his stuff. “See that he gets his water pick. I wouldn’t want Henry’s gums to get any less tight.” She dumps on Eliza, but Eliza wins the stare-off (and never corrects her assumption that Henry and she are dating).
As for that review, Henry got a performance evaluation of 89 percent. “That’s a B! What am I, Hufflepuff?” Apparently he got a bunch of good peer reviews, but one co-worker gave him an F and called him “a bit of a poop.” He immediately assumes it was Eliza being vindictive. But it’s not Eliza. The episode skips over that fact, but that means something. Even though Eliza had regressed to the level of the most popular girl in her 7th grade class, Corynn McWatters, ambassador of bitchface, and even though the romantic turmoil had stressed her out so much she couldn’t face her bills, and even though she was asking herself, What Would Corynn Do, she still gave Henry a good review. That’s progress, sort of. She’s mature enough to do the right thing on a form, but she wrecks the rest of her life as a cry for help? I’m not sure even Corynn would do that.
But by the end, everything is solved. Henry has cleaned out the physical and abstract structures of Eliza’s bill-paying (her desk and her schedule). They’re buddy-buddy again and no longer keeping big secrets from each other. Alexi Murdoch plays. It’s like a life-insurance commercial. Which is maybe not the best mode for a romantic comedy.
Oh, and Henry finds out who called him “a bit of a poop.”
Eliza says, “Bit of a poop. That’s what Charlie calls you.”
Henry says, “He does?”
“Yeah. Not a full poop, just a bit of a poop.”
“That piece of shit.”
- It doesn’t take much feuding for Eliza to douse herself in ketchup and lie on the floor of the break-room. She voice-overs her plan: “Screw the high school tactics and Gone Girl his ass.”
- In the words of Corynn McWatters, “Whoever caves first gets cankles.”
- Henry: “Charlie, knock, please. Were you raised in a barn?” Charlie: “Yes.”